Posted by: eheino | May 27, 2013

ETL401 Assessment 5, Part B: Critical Reflection

Teacher-librarians are so important!My understanding of the role of the teacher -librarian has changed markedly throughout the course of this subject. Looking back to my first blog post, I believed that the teacher-librarian’s job was to both nurture children’s love of reading by displaying a passion for it themselves and provide quality literature for them to read and discover (OLJ, March 2, 2013). However, I now realise that this is only a tiny part of what a teacher-librarian does.  At first this realisation was an overwhelming prospect.  Reading the work of scholars like Purcell (2010) and Lamb (2011) made the teacher-librarian’s job seem impossibly broad. How on earth was I supposed to have time to be a leader, instructional partner, information specialist, teacher and program administrator (Purcell, 2010)?  But after reading Herring’s (2007) article I was comforted by his suggestion that we can and should prioritise these roles according to the needs of our school. I can do that, right?

This course has forced me to think about some daunting yet exciting aspects of my future career as a teacher-librarian.

Teacher-Librarian as ICT expert

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the teacher-librarian’s role is evolving to involve technology and Web 2.0.  As I mentioned in my first blog post, my two loves are reading and technology (OLJ, March 2, 2013) so the chance to combine both passions in one career greatly excites me.  As so much information is available electronically these days it is important for teacher-librarians to be able to use technology effectively. As I explored on the forums, an online presence is a great way for the teacher-librarian to connect to their school community while demonstrating the importance of their role to staff and parents (Heino, March 19, 2013). Websites such as Pinterest are an excellent way to collate library related links and teaching resources for both staff & students to explore (OLJ, March 19, 2013). I look forward to creating my own library web presence in the future.

Teacher-Librarian as Collaborator

The readings in this subject have made it patently clear that collaboration between the teacher-librarian and classroom teachers is of significant benefit to students (Herring, 2007; Eisenberg, 2008; Kuhlthau & Maniotes, 2010). This realisation has been somewhat daunting to me as an introvert (OLJ, March 19, 2013), particularly after hearing stories in the forums of staff members who are resistant to change. Added to that, my readings explained that many principals are unaware of the potential benefits of teacher-librarian/classroom teacher collaboration for students. It is therefore up to the teacher-librarian to ensure the principal is aware of the importance of their role (OLJ, March 25, 2013). All of this evidence almost convinced me to abandon becoming a teacher-librarian all together. I already had difficulty relating to staff members, and now I will be responsible for initiating collaboration? How will I be able to do that?? Fortunately the advice in Harvey’s (2004) article quelled these fears significantly and with his article close at hand, I felt more confident in my ability to tackle my first teacher-librarian role.

Teacher-Librarian as Inquiry learning facilitator

Perhaps my most significant learning has occurred in the area of information literacy. Prior to this subject I hadn’t heard of information literacy or inquiry learning, but the more I read, the more familiar it became. I discovered that I had been engaging in inquiry learning every time I completed a research task, and lamented not having heard of it sooner. In a society where we are increasingly bombarded with information, it is vital that students are able to not only read and comprehend information, but to assess, evaluate and use information from a variety of sources to create our own meanings (OLJ May 11, 2013). Inquiry learning instructs students in the exercise of these skills.  Then there was the question of which inquiry learning model to choose? I was particularly inspired by Kuhlthau’s (1994) work regarding student’s zones of intervention, and the teacher-librarian’s ability to bolster student ability by providing assistance where students cannot proceed without difficulty (Fitzgerald, 2011; OLJ, April 28, 2013). However extensive reading led me to believe that Herring’s PLUS model (1996) would be most beneficial in a primary school setting (where I aim to be working one day).  The readings for this subject have given me a passion for information literacy and a deep desire to help students who aren’t currently given the opportunity to learn in this way (OLJ, May 9 2013).

This subject has been eye opening to say the least. Looking back on my thoughts as they stood in March has highlighted just how limited my understanding of my new direction was. Now that I have reached this subject’s conclusion, it is immensely satisfying to see how much deeper my understanding has become. I am sure that all I have learnt will benefit my practices when I embark on my first teacher-librarian position.

Reference List

Eisenberg, M.B. (2008). Information literacy: Skills for the information age. DESIDOC Journal of Library and Information Technology28(2), 39-47.

Fitzgerald, L. (2011). The twin purposes of Guided Inquiry: Guiding student inquiry and evidence based practice. Scan 30(1) 26-41.

Harvey, C. (2004). The rookie: a primer to help you survive your first year with flying colors. School Library Journal 50(9) 50-52.

Heino, E. (March 2, 2013). For the Love of Books.  In A Maze of Discoveries [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: https://eheino.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/for-the-love-of-books/

Heino, E. (March 19, 2013). Re:Group 3. Message posted to ETL401 Module 2.1 Subforum.

Heino, E. (March 19, 2013). School Libraries on Pinterest. In A Maze of Discoveries [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: https://eheino.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/school-libraries-on-pinterest/

Heino, E. (March 25, 2013). Blog Task 1: The Role of the Teacher Librarian in Practice with regard to Principal Support. In A Maze of Discoveries [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: https://eheino.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/blog-task-1-the-role-of-the-teacher-librarian-in-practice-with-regard-to-principal-support/

Heino, E. (April 28, 2013). Blog Task 2: The Role of the TL in Implementing the Guided Inquiry Approach. In A Maze of Discoveries [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: https://eheino.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/blog-task-2-the-role-of-the-tl-in-implementing-the-guided-inquiry-approach-2/

Heino, E. (May 9, 2013). Promoting Collaboration between TLs and classroom teachers.  In A Maze of Discoveries [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: https://eheino.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/promoting-collaboration-between-tls-and-classroom-teachers/

Heino, E. (May 11, 2013). Blog Task 3: Information Literacy is more than a set of skills. In A Maze of Discoveries [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: https://eheino.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/blog-task-3-information-literacy-is-more-than-a-set-of-skills/

Herring, J. (1996). Teaching information skills in schools. London: Library Association Publishing.

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century : charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Kuhlthau, C. (1994). Students and the information search process: Zones of intervention for librarians. In Woodward, A. & Penniman, D. (Eds.), Advances in Librarianship Volume 18, pp 57-72 Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Kuhlthau, C. & Maniotes, L. (2010). Building guided inquiry teams for 21st-century learners. School Library Monthly26(5), 18-21.

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with Potential: Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette. TechTrends, 55(4), 27-36.

Purcell, M. (2010). All Librarians Do Is Check Out Books, Right? A Look at the Roles of a School Library Media Specialist. Library Media Connection, 29(3), 30-33.

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